One of our main priorities this year has been to get out and see more customers. You can only learn so much from phone conversations and Emails. When we visit you in your environment, your unique skills and talents become evident. It is pretty clear that every successful manufacturing business does something to attract and retain customers. Particularly in the precision machining space this holds true. Just in the last couple of weeks we’ve observed two great contrasting facilities. At one customer we observed a tiny very intricate part and at another we observed massive castings that were machined and integrated with assembled finished products. Finding out the how and why of both was an incredible education in why finding a niche is so important. Everything at each facility contributed to their niche, success was clearly not an accident in either example.
Why US Manufacturers Need to Stand Out
The US Supply chain is absolutely massive, to give you an idea look to this report by the National Association of Manufacturers for 2012. The report showed that:
- In 2012 for every $1.00 spent in manufacturing another $1.32 was added to the economy.
- The average manufacturing worker earned $77,505 including pay and benefits (vs. $62,063 average).
- Manufacturers in the United States are the most productive in the world.
- Manufacturers perform two-thirds of all private sector R&D, making them a huge driver of innovation.
- US Manufacturing would be the 8th largest economy in the world if taken alone.
Also consider that US Manufacturing jobs beat healthcare in both actual dollars and growth since 2002. These facts demonstrate that not only is there a need to stand out, businesses are finding a way in spite of great pressures in recent years with off-shoring and aggressive cost cutting efforts by many customers.
Finding Your Niche
Do you know what your niche is? What makes your company irresistible? If you don’t know but you are succeeding, you may want to ask your customers. Regardless of your current situation here are some tips to differentiate your business:
- Look at your operation, your staff, your company, what makes you unique and different? Where do your processes, people and expertise add the most value to your customers?
- Network – you can learn a lot from your peers. Two great places to network in the CNC Machining side of things are LinkedIn and Quora.
- Capabilities – are there things you are continually out sourcing that you could potentially do in house?
- Upgrades – investigate ways to maximize your shop efficiency such as a ERP, PDM or MDC system.
- Financial Models – don’t always trust your gut, do the math before making costly upgrades.
- Partnerships – discuss ways to enhance and expand the relationships you have with suppliers and customers.
These are just a few tips, but perhaps the most critical thing: don’t be afraid to ask for help. The people who heed the call will be the people you will want to surround yourself with. Do you know your niche?